Objective: To assess the incidence of hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) in a well-defined population of children with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and evaluate the common clinical and laboratory characteristics of individuals with IBD who developed HLH.
Study design: We conducted a retrospective study of all children who developed HLH over an 8-year period. The incidence of HLH in patients with IBD was calculated using US census data and a statewide project examining the epidemiology of pediatric IBD.
Results: Among children in Wisconsin, 20 cases of HLH occurred during the study period; 5 cases occurred in children with IBD. Common characteristics include: Crohn's disease (CD), thiopurine administration, fever lasting more than 5 days, lymphadenopathy, splenomegaly, anemia, lymphopenia, and elevated serum triglycerides and ferritin. Of the patients, 4 had primary Epstein-Barr virus infections. The incidence of HLH among all children in Wisconsin was 1.5 per 100 000 per year. The risk was more than 100-fold greater for children with CD (P < .00001).
Conclusions: Pediatric patients with CD are at increased risk for developing HLH; primary Epstein-Barr virus infection and thiopurine administration may be risk factors.
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